Allegrini 2018

Italian wine between gdo, e-commerce, export and horeca: the state of the art after lockdown

The picture reported by data, studies and testimonies from over 80 wineries, collected by WineNews, in these difficult days
The Italian wine between gdo, e-commerce, export and horeca

Gdo, above all, but also e-commerce, growing, the export that held on, especially in the non-EU countries, restaurants, and bars are suffering, and with them many small wineries and producers. This is where the Italian wine industry restarts, with very different trends between channels and markets, on which it is worth drawing a general picture, which emerges from the WineNews surveys that, in recent days, have collected the testimonies of over 100 wineries, entrepreneurs, researchers, and market operators. With out-of-home consumption stationary for more than two months, the most important embankment for wine, but the prerogative above all of a few more structured players, and in any case insufficient to compensate for the losses of restaurants and bars, has been large-scale distribution, which has also accompanied the desire of Italians not to give up bringing to the table the good products of the land and agriculture, for which perhaps the respect has also grown, including wine. If in the first 3 and a half months of the year, sales of wine in large-scale distribution (hyper, super, free service, small, discount) recorded an overall growth of +7.9% in volume and +6.9% in value, according to the Vinitaly and Iri report, the latest figures, updated on 17 May 2020, speak of growth in value, since 23 February (date of the first government Dpcm with the first measures to contain the pandemic, editor's note), 5% for PDO wines, and 7.3% for IGT wines. Another channel that has been very important for food, and in part also for wine, has been that of e-commerce, with several operators who have also recorded a doubling of orders and business. Beyond the real value, which in the wine market as a whole remains low, in the order of a few percentage points, the most interesting aspect in this sense, as pointed out by the most important players such as Tannico, or even a recent study by European Wine Economists, is that many consumers have turned to this channel for the first time. It will continue to grow, therefore, even if at a slower rate, of course, also in Italy, and also in areas of the world where it is already much more developed for wine, such as China, for example, or the United States. With the direct-to-consumer that, in Italy and around the world, as we have been told by a wine critic such as James Suckling, but also studies such as those of Liv-Ex or Wine Intelligence, for example, will be increasingly important, and will somehow change both the sales and communication strategies of wineries. All in all, it was also the wine export that held on, even though it was in difficulty due to the lockdown of many countries, with the consequent blockage of catering. On the contrary, in the non-EU area, in the first 4 months, there has even been a growth, for the made in Italy agri-food in general, and for wine in particular, which in third countries has seen an increase in exports of 3.3%, for a value of 1.03 billion euros, according to customs data analyzed by Confagricoltura. Although it is a figure that should be read especially in light of the impressive increase in January 2020, with the U.S., a key market, which ran out stocks for fear of duties, which fortunately did not arrived, while February, March, and April were months of decline, but not of collapse, with losses in the order of -3-4%, which in this scenario has to be considered almost as a success.
More critical, of course, the situation of the HORECA, restaurants, bars, and tourism, the most affected sectors, which are also the most important for small wineries and for all those producers who focus on high quality. Here, in addition to the small supply chain of delivery, which also involved the haute cuisine, but with overall small numbers, they have been months of the total stop. And even if many great restaurateurs these days are sending messages of confidence and the desire to restart, it is clear that, as many of them point out, it will be a year of a loss, and it will take time to try to recover for what was lost. According to Fipe, 30% of the pubs have not reopened, among the uncertainties of the rules, the costs, and the total lack of tourism which represents much of the turnover. And those who have done so, since May 18, until today have recorded receipts 80% lower than the norm. For wine, according to initial estimates, the loss for wineries, for now, is -25% in the first 4 months of 2020, over the same period 2019, but in several predict a year in average loss between -40% and -50% at the end of the year.
A difficult and complex picture, of course. But it is from here that Italian wine tries to start again and look to the future.

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